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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exposure assessment of characteristic compounds at a fire & safety training center Hills, Dale


Sampling for characteristic compounds emitted from fires at the Maple Ridge Fire and Safety Training Center was conducted to assess staff exposure to these compounds. Area samples were taken at outdoor burn sites to measure CO, CO₂, S0₂ , HCN, formaldehyde, particulate, and benzene, to determine if areas where staff technicians monitor emergency switches are free of exposure and to find if there are safe distances from these pits where harmful exposures may not occur. Area samples were taken inside the indoor bum structures to determine the time period to dilute these post-fire residual contaminants to levels where health effects would not be expected. All results were compared to the Workers' Compensation Board of BC exposure limits. Mean exposure at the propane pad fuel tank was below the detection limit, and at the large outdoor fuel and depth burn sites the mean exposure was below the exposure limits. At the extinguisher pad training site, mean levels of particulate and benzene exceeded the exposure limits (particulate 417 mg/m3, benzene 0.9 ppm). Mean exposure levels, following venting in the indoor burn sites, exceeded the exposure limit for CO (36 ppm), benzene (0.8 ppm), and formaldehyde (0.372 ppm), while C0₂ (925 ppm), S0₂ (1.5 ppm), particulate (0.2 mg/m³), and HCN (0.1 ppm) were less than the exposure limit. Formaldehyde (0.011 ppm) was detected in the burn building following the absence of any burning for up to one week, and was attributed to off-gassing of the chemical from the concrete walls. Control options to reduce exposure are proposed. They include: relocation of the extinguisher pad with future site expansion, altering work practices found to be predictors of exposure, and by avoiding entry into the ship mock-up for a minimum of 380 minutes, and the burn building for 140 minutes, following the last burning session. The results of the study suggest that for some burning sites, there are situations where exposure could occur, however, the risk of health effects may be slight if proper control of these exposures is exercised.

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